Here’s my near 96 year old Mom sizing up an Andy Goldsworthy sculptural Cairn at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LaJolla, CA. Cairns are markers, to show presence and history. Which do you think is the true Cairn? My Mom or Goldsworthy’s Iowa limestone construction? I love Goldsworthy’s work, I love my Mom more. She is the one who introduced me to the wonders in museums. She is fading now, though Goldsworthy’s stuff will likely remain for a longer time, it too will not last forever.
Mom and I went into the museum and her most alert moment was comparing her walking cane with one of the guard’s. That was sweet. Two broken pilgrims comparing their supports. Then she was happy to sit on a bench overlooking the Pacific (always loved a good view, always had an eye for the best art in the place). The show on the walls was interesting, but she chose the best view, and then preferred the reproductions on the paper pages of the museum catalogue, tho the real pieces were steps away on the walls. It’s a wonder I can even take her into museums still, that she wants to even go. I mused on the meaning of art as she looked at the Pacific and I looked quickly at the pieces on the walls.
Vincent Van Gogh once said to his brother Theo that the greatest artist (in the whole place) is the One who can work in human flesh. I read that statement while in college and it shaped my future, directing a lot of choices I have made since then. My Mom is one of His canvasses. And He is not done yet.